It was our pleasure to speak with Dr. James Anderson, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. Specializing in religious epistemology and philosophical theology, Dr. Anderson brings to the table a wide array of insights into the subject of Christian apologetics. Join us as we speak with him about defending the faith.
A young lady recently asked one of the authors here about the “Left Behind” phenomenon, and specifically the theology undergirding the perspective. She wanted some help understanding the viewpoint. Since we haven’t posted anything on the topic, it seemed good to go ahead and say a few things.
Now to be perfectly transparent, I haven’t read the Left Behind series, nor have I watched the movie. If the reviews over at IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes are any indication, no one in their right mind would consider doling out money to watch the show. One reviewer bemoaned it this way, “I am now relatively certain there is a Hell and it is a darkened theater with no doors showing Left Behind on a loop for eternity.”
But never mind the movie. What about the theology behind it?
While there are many variations and nuanced differences within this particular school of thought, the theological perspective motivating the ideas found in Left Behind originate with a viewpoint known as dispensationalism.
Much could be said about this. In fact, to really get a firm grasp on the position, as well as some of the more recent developments (known as Progressive Dispensationalism), it would require reading book length works. […]
The last paragraph in C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, contains a thought so heart-shatteringly wonderful, it causes the human mind to shut down… or skip… or erupt in worship soaked adoration.
The children in the story have just learned that they are dead. There was a railway accident. Aslan is with them though, and that is all they really want. With words of comfort, the Lion tells them, “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
C.S. Lewis then concludes by writing the following,
“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on […]
In part III of Religious Affections, section V, Jonathan Edwards writes with penetrating insight,
“Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of the truth of the gospel, by the internal evidences of it, in the way that has been spoken, viz., by a sight of its glory; it is impossible that those who are illiterate, and unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and effectual conviction of it at all. They may without this, see a great deal of probability of it; it may be reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and historians tell them; and they may tell them so much, that it may look very probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion is true; and so much that they would be very unreasonable not to entertain this opinion. But to have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued torments, and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but […]
Dr. James Anderson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, has made some of his works available for free. He is an exquisite blend of Van Tillian thought and analytical philosophy, and I for one have immensely enjoyed not only his lectures, but his written articles. In this vein, allow me to point out a few for your consideration:
• Why Universities Can’t Do Without God – A look at why the atheistic worldview cannot account for moral norms and rational thought.
• Can I Trust the Bible over Evolutionary Science – A popular level discussion of faith and science.
• Calvinism and the Origin of Sin – A theologically robust and faithful handling of an admittedly tricky subject.
• If Knowledge Then God: The Epistemological Theistic Arguments of Plantinga and Van Til – A superb paper summarizing the arguments of each these two apologetic giants.
• The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God From Logic (Greg Welty and James Anderson) – A philosophically heavy article, so be warned.
Mara Clarke of the Abortion Support Network (a pro-abortionist organization) recently debated Scott Klusendorf on the Unbelievable radio show. When pressed as to why it is morally permissible for a pregnant woman to end the life of a human being in her womb, Mara Clarke said,
Mara: “At the end of the day, all I can go with is: women who are living outside of the womb absolutely have a right to- and I don’t say this term- I never say this term- bodily autonomy, right? They have a right to continue with or not continue with a pregnancy.”
Justin (the host of the show): “Ok. So that in a sense overrides any issues of whether we’re dealing with a human in the womb or not for you.”
Justin: “The autonomy of a woman over her body trumps that- and that presumably is the distinction then we’re drawing between the toddler and the child in the womb. A toddler is separate to the woman at that point, obviously. There’s not a question of her having control of her body at that point. You’re dealing with a separate individual.”
Mara: “Yeah, we can send […]
There is nearly unanimous agreement that Ignatius was martyred sometime during the reign of Trajan (AD. 98-117). Writing to various churches before his death, his letters emphasize unity and truth. Ignatius is also keen on finishing the race well. He is about to be thrown to the lions, and he wants to reassure the churches that this is all very well.
In his letter to the Romans, he says in one place, “The Work is not a matter of persuasive rhetoric; rather, Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world.” Soon after penning those words, he speaks of his impending death in this way:
“May I have the pleasure of the wild beasts that have been prepared for me; and I pray that they prove prompt with me. I will even coax them to devour me promptly, not as they have done with some, whom they were too timid to touch. And if when I am willing and ready they are not, I will force them. Bear with me- I know what is best for me. Now at last I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing visible or invisible envy me, so that I may reach […]
Picture an aquarium full of only dirt and rocks.
Now imagine that this represents the sum total of reality. There is no mind beyond the walls of that aquarium, no watching eyes, nothing. Life is utterly absent within and without. There is only the stuff of matter.
Now suppose someone were to ask if the aquarium contained morality. Is it in there? If so, where might it be found? Under a rock? Hidden deep in the dirt? Perhaps floating about in the air?
Search as one might, digging here and there, morality would not be found. It is nowhere.
But now imagine a creature suddenly forming in some mysterious, almost ineffable way. It is a slithering thing, long and inhuman, devoid of consciousness.
Might morality be found in the aquarium now? Nothing has fundamentally changed, save for the creeping creature, and that changes nothing. Morality is still absent.
Picture another scene. Suppose the slithering creature splits into other similar creatures, ones that in turn morph and change into other creatures. Imagine as well plants suddenly sprouting up. Envision rain beginning to fall and entire colonies of scurrying critters forming, ducking into holes and climbing trees.
The aquarium is now teeming with life.
Peering through the glass wall, we […]
On the night before his meeting with King Xerxes and Esther, Haman, in accordance with the counsel of his friends and wife, had a seventy-five foot tall gallows built exclusively for the neck of Mordecai, the faithful Jew who would not bow the knee in his presence.
Through the cunning of Haman, an edict had already been sent forth, spelling the demise of the Jews. The outlying provinces were to “kill and annihilate all the Jews- young and old, woman and little children- on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods” (Esther 3:13 NIV). It was a time of great mourning and weeping and fasting for God’s people. They were going to die.
One can almost picture Haman in his bed, listening to the sound of sawing and hammering, as the immense gallows were being constructed. One can imagine him replaying the image of Mordecai standing alone amid a sea of bent knees, refusing to pay homage to him. He no doubt pictured the obstinate Jew swinging in the noonday light, noose cinched tightly around his neck. He no doubt imagined what he would say before the onlookers, how he […]
Here are some theological debates that might be of interest. Each can be found under “Ministries/Trinity Debate” over at the Carl F.H. Henry Center website.
Do Relations of Authority and Submission Exist Eternally Among the Persons of the Godhead? (Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem vs. Keith Yandell and Tom McCall)
This is technical debate that will prove taxing at times. But for those with a taste for the subject, they will probably want to give it a go.
Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church? (Jim Wallis vs. Al Mohler)
Unfortunately, the bulk of the debate is fairly repetitive. Since there wasn’t a time of cross examination, both speakers weren’t provided an opportunity to really disagree with one another until the Q&A. There the real differences came out more forcefully, however.
How and When Will All Israel Be Saved? (Douglas Moo, John Feinberg, Mitch Glaser, Willem VanGemeren)
If you would like to hear a variety of voices interact with Romans 11, with an eye towards answering the above question, this panel discussion will provide just that. It is a little dry, but informative nonetheless.